News Archives - SME Finance

FG inaugurates N75bn SMEs COVID-19 stimulus schemes

The Federal Government on Thursday flagged off two schemes to financially support about 1.7 million micro, small and medium enterprises across the country with N75bn.

At a briefing on the flag-off of the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said the schemes would impact positively on businesses in the country.

Read More: Nigerian Banks Write Off N1.9 Trillion Impaired Loans In Past Four Years.

The Economic Sustainability Plan was approved by the Federal Executive Council on June 24, 2020, following its initiation by the Economic Sustainability Committee that was established by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on March 30, 2020.

The committee, which is chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, comprises of several ministers and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, the Buhari administration has said it would not relent in its efforts towards improving the country’s healthcare infrastructure and economy, while creating more jobs for millions of Nigerians in different sectors, supporting small businesses, local production and manufacturing, as well as extending the social safety net for the most vulnerable in society, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Speaking on the Buhari administration’s efforts to cushion the effects of the pandemic on Nigerians, the Vice President stated that improving healthcare infrastructure remains a major objective of the administration.

He said, “Out of the N500bn initial stimulus fund that is factored into the current budget, N126bn of it is going into healthcare.

In her address at the briefing, Katagum stated that in keeping to its promise to support businesses overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government was set to commence nationwide implementation of the two MSME initiatives.

Katagum said the N60bn MSME Survival Fund and the Payroll Support schemes would be rolled out first, adding that the N15bn Guaranteed Off-take Scheme would then follow.

She said, “Both schemes are at the core of the N2.3tn stimulus package, also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan being implemented to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.”

The minister said a 10-man committee, which she chairs, was inaugurated in August with membership from the private and public sectors including the Vice-Chairperson, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank.

Katagum said the committee also had representatives of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, adding that the team had developed a workable template for the execution of the programme.

She said, “The survival fund scheme is expected to commence immediately while the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme will follow as soon as the proper modalities are put in place to meet current realities.

The Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Umaru Radda, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the MSMEs for the fund, said the Survival Fund was a welcome development to reduce the effect of COVID-19 on MSMEs.

The representative of the Organized Private Sector, who is also a Board of Trustees Member of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Ubadigbo Okonkwo, said the survival fund was a timely stimulus package for MSMEs in Nigeria.

However, he expressed concern about the short duration and small size of the schemes and urged the federal government to implement follow-up MSME support programmes at the planned expiry of the two schemes.

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Nigeria’s Debt Rises 8.3% To 31 Trillion Naira In 3 Months – DMO

Nigeria’s total debt stock has risen to N31 trillion as of June 2020, from N28.6tn reported in March, the Debt Management Office, (DMO) has said.

According to the periodic data which it released recently, DMO said the public debt stock consist of those for the Federal Government, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Read More: Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate Jumps To 27.1%, Inflation Up 12%

The N31.009 trillion debt is about $85.897 billion compared to that of March which was N28.628tn was about $79.303bn, growing by N2.38tn or $6.59bn due to the $3.36bn Budget Support Loan from the International Monetary Fund, New Domestic Borrowing to finance the Revised 2020 Appropriation Act, the issuance of the N162.557 billion Sukuk, and Promissory Notes issued to settle Claims of Exporters.

The DMO expects the Public Debt Stock to grow as the balance of the New Domestic Borrowing is raised and expected disbursements are made by the World Bank, African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank which were arranged to finance the 2020 Budget.

Recall that the 2020 Appropriation Act had to be revised in the face of the adverse and severe impact of COVID-19 on Government’s revenues and increased expenditure needs on health and economic stimulus amongst others.

It said additional Promissory Notes are expected to be issued in the course of the year, this, and new borrowings by State Governments are also expected to increase the Public Debt Stock.

Experts who gave warnings during a one-day Webinar titled: ‘Are Chinese Infrastructure Loans Putting Nigeria on the Debt Trap Express,’ organized by the US – Nigeria Trade Council, has warned Nigeria strongly against the loans; arguing that the terms are hidden “debt traps” for the country.

In his presentation, the Managing Partner & CEO, Berkham Capital UK, Joseph Oyediran, kicked against the China infrastructure loans; arguing that Nigeria at the moment is clearly exhibiting the symptoms of a country that will default on payment.

According to Oyediran, the revenue streams for Nigeria to repay the loans within the specified period are not there; especially in the face of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

While stressing that with a debt profile put at about $65 billion, Nigeria was not looking healthy enough to repay the China loans, he described the loan as a debt trap for Nigeria, adding, that “the revenue source to pay back is just not there”.

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Kwara Offers 21,623 Micro Businesses Interest-Free Loans

About 21,623 petty traders in the state are expected to benefit from the state’s interest-free micro-finance loans under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP).

The state governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has already approved the disbursement of the loans to the beneficiaries.

Read More: Trader Moni Beneficiaries Unwilling To Repay Loans, Says NSIP

Commissioner for Finance and Planning, Mrs Oyeyemi Olasumbo Florence, said the money released for the programme, which is just one of the many people-focus policies of the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration, was meant to fund the safety net initiative targeted at the poorest of the poor, including the aged, the widow and others at the lowest wrung of the economy.

“This is to lift as many people as possible out of the poverty line,” she said, adding that at least N100m would be disbursed this week to roughly 20,000 transport workers in the state as “Òwó Ìsówó in form of soft loan that was designed to lessen the effects of the lockdown on local transporters.

In a statement signed by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, the state said the operations of the first phase of disbursement would last for five weeks.

The statement added that “The disbursement comes after months of careful enumeration of the potential beneficiaries of the scheme.”

The statement said the disbursement of the beneficiaries would cut across the 16 local government councils of the state.

It added, “The disbursement of funds to the beneficiaries of “Òwó Ìsówó begins today. We are looking at disbursing to 21,623 persons for this phase.

“Due to COVID-19 and the need to maintain social distancing, we will be communicating venues to beneficiaries as we get to each local government.

“Owo Isowo is

SMEs Vital to African Agriculture – African Development Bank

A panel of some of Africa’s most promising small and medium enterprise (SME) Agripreneurs gathered online to call for more selective investment, accelerated business acquisitions and increased cooperation to help Africa feed itself and the world.

The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) organized the virtual session; Integrating African Food Systems through the Lens of SME Champions, as a side-event ahead of Africa’s largest agriculture conference – the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) – was held online for the first time, from 8-11 September.

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Webinar moderator Atsuko Toda, Bank Director for agricultural finance and rural development, said the panel members, were selected because they are using innovative solutions, tailored their business models, have a proven track record, and shown to have an impact on food systems.

“We see the importance of the roles that you play, the risks you take and the Bank wants to give you more visibility so that policymakers can understand the challenges of what you are facing and help SME Champions to grow,” Toda said.

The group of African “SME Champions” –  heads of SMEs across the continent’s food system production, processing, logistics, agricultural digitization and cold storage chain solutions sub-sectors, set the scene for webinar attendees, by describing the challenges and opportunities they face in trying to meet Africa’s food systems demands. Some said policy, programs and financing in Africa are geared toward larger organizations and businesses – and that there is still too heavy a focus on agricultural imports to Africa.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, head of Nigeria-based ColdHubs, says his solar power, cold storage facility company helps farmers’ produce stay fresher, longer, reducing the need to rush the product to market at less competitive prices. ColdHubs says it invested in the storage infrastructure so that farmers could benefit from the service at a reasonable price.

“We are taking the risk out of ownership of huge cold rooms from smallholder farmers because we design, operate and maintain these cold rooms. We offer a pay-as-you-use service model,” said Ikegwounu.

In spite of agriculture being an acknowledged leading growth driver for Africa, the potential of the sector’s contribution to growth and development has been underexploited mainly due to a variety of challenges, including the widening technology divide, weak infrastructure and declining technical capacity.

These challenges have been exacerbated by weak input and output marketing systems and services, slow progress in regional integration, land access and rights issues, limited access to affordable credit, challenging governance issues in some countries, conflicts, effects of climate change, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Green growth is critical to Africa because of the fragility of the continent’s natural environment. Further, Africa’s dependence on agriculture is stretching its ecological carrying capacity. Africa’s agriculture, therefore, needs a transformation to green agricultural practices that combine intensification of land productivity with environmental sustainability.

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Trader Moni Beneficiaries Unwilling to Repay Loans, Says NSIP

The Kwara State Focal Person for the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), Hajia Bashirah Abdulrazaq-Sanusi, yesterday alleged that the beneficiaries of ‘Trader Moni,’ one of the programmes of the federal government’s NSIP designed to reduce poverty in Nigeria are reluctant to repay the loan.

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Abdulrazaq-Sanusi said that about 10,000 people benefited from “Trader Moni” programme in the state with over N1.3bn disbursed to them,

But, she lamented that the people were not willing to repay the loan.

“Poor masses are not ready to repay the loan after collection because of the attitude of Nigerians to anything from the government, thinking it is national cake. Also those that disbursed the money do not have records of beneficiaries like phone numbers and addresses, thus, making it difficult to track them for repayment,” Abdulrazaq-Sanusi said.

She explained that the programme was designed to provide soft loans to boost small scale businesses in the markets and was flagged off by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in 2019 to support women with N10,000 as soft loans to be paid back, after which they would enjoy the next stage of N50,000.

The Bank of Industry (BOI) has however refuted the claim, saying records of all Trader Moni beneficiaries are available in its database.

It said all NSIP focal persons have been provided with information on Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) beneficiaries, under which the Trader Moni scheme is established.

“We would like to state that the fully digitized loan records and bio-data of all 2,418,936 GEEP beneficiaries are electronically stored in a central database. The data can be viewed at the GEEP Command Centre of the Bank of Industry which is open to the public.

“The programme relies heavily on technology to deliver its three loan products; namely, Trader Moni, Market Moni and Farmer Moni. The loan cycle for every GEEP applicant involves the following processes: Extensive KYC and data validation via mobile forms.”

BOI explained that GEEP agents nationwide are equipped with a proprietary mobile application that enables the full registration and capture of up to 43 unique data points of every single applicant.

The Trader Moni programme, which was launched in 2018, is designed to provide soft loans of N10,000 to boost small scale businesses.

The programme was formerly managed by the office of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

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CHESTRAD Targets Women, Girls in New Initiative

The Center for Health Sciences Training Research and Development (CHESTRAD) Global, an African-led non-state social enterprise, has introduced an initiative in Lagos State geared towards bringing hope to women and children.
The CEO, Lola Dare, who spoke during a press briefing on Tuesday, said the project named Tariro, will target 500,000 women in the space of two and a half years.

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She revealed that the rate of domestic violence against women spiked during the lockdown.
“One of the things we have observed during COVID-19 is an increase in gender and domestic violence. In motor parks and market areas, the rate of gender-based violence against women increased during COVID-19 by 58 per cent.”

She continued: “The plight of women is worse now in the pandemic. COVID-19 is actually gender-blind and has ignored women. And so, women have had their small SMEs totally collapsed, a woman cannot afford to purchase health care for herself or children. She cannot put them in school or contribute to household income.”

Under Tariro, 500,000 women in urban slums in Lagos will have access to qualitative services in health, nutrition, and early learning. Through these women, an additional two million children can have access to these services.
To achieve these goals, Dare noted that multi-service Tariro Centres (TC) will be established in urban slums in Lagos, starting with Ikota (Eti-Osa), Iba (Ojo) and Olowogbowo (Lagos island) communities.

‘Tariro’, is a South African word for ‘hope’. The programme is “a health and financial inclusion programme, which gives and expands the access of children, girls and women to financial and health products and services,”

The chairman of the African led non-profit organisation, Mr Bimbola Ogunkelu said that Tariro is motivated by the visible economic inequalities between men and women.

He observed that women in Nigeria have lesser job opportunities, earn less and save less, thus “limiting their capacity to support themselves, children and families.”

National statistics show that Nigeria loses 145 women of childbearing age every day due to pregnancy-related complications and an estimated 20 per cent (10 million) of the world’s out-of-school children are in Nigeria, 60 per cent (six million) of who are girls. Also, women represent between 60-79 per cent of Nigeria’s rural labour force.

CHESTRAD hopes to achieve all its set goals by 2023 through its sustainability plans that include impact investment and philanthropic giving.

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GTBank, MD, Under Probe Over Alleged $667,000 Fraud

The Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) is currently probing Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) and its Managing Director, Mr. Segun Agbaje, over allegedly fraudulent transactions involving $667,000.

In a suit at the Federal High Court, numbered FHC/L/CS/586/2020, the Police has charged the Bank, its Managing Director and two others before Justice Ayokunle Faji, in a case involving Albert Austine Ugochukwu and a limited liability company, Tasmara Integrated Services Limited.

Read More: Nigerian Banks Write off N1.9 trillion impaired loans in past four years

The charges are pursuant to section 6(6)(b), (2)(k) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); Executive Order 6, 2018, Section 4 of Police Act, 2004, section 13(1) Federal High Court Act, 2004. And also, Section 13 (1) of money laundering and prohibition Act 2011(as amended in 2012), Order 26(6-10), 28(1)(1-3),(2)(1-6) 30(A) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rule) 2019: Section 16(1)(A)(B) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud-related offences Act, 2006 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

In moving the motion exparte, through the affidavit in support and written address, the Head of Legal at PSFU, Mr. Emmanuel Jackson, leading J. I. Enang, asked the court for an order restraining GTBank from posting any debit or allowing the bank to make any drawings or permitting any drawing on 35 accounts which were used to perpetrate the alleged fraud by some customers, pending the conclusion of investigation on the accounts by the police.

The Police has also asked the court to direct GTBank to order the account officers of the said 35 accounts being investigated to come for interviews with the commissioner of police in-charge of PSFU and furnish the unit with the certified true copy (CTC) of some documents on the said 35 accounts.

The documents include statements of account from January 1, 2018, till date; names and addresses of signatories to the accounts; photocopies on the mandate cards; Bank Verification Number linked to the accounts and certificate of computer printout in compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act.

CSP Jackson said the said documents sought will allow the police to investigate certain monies totalling $667,000, fraudulently obtained by false pretence by the bank’s customers.

He also said the order sought for will also prevent the bank from lifting any restrictions placed or will be placed on the said 35 accounts.

The account numbers which PSFU sought the order against GTBank are: 205/153068; 228/678179; 402/649701; 220/876518; 224/980764; 220/877573; 220/877598; 220/885941: 209/822101; 209/823832; 246/296004; 246/297322; 265/231545: 265/231511.

Others are; 265/229254; 246/340436; 265/231542; 265/231625; 220/885852, 209/839097; 214/8682312; 220/886856; 220/886871; 220/886875; 246/340330; 246/344649; 251/292171; 251/292201; 265/231490; 220/886879; 220/886839; 220/886802; 251/292261; 265/231474 and 220/886811.

PSFU in an affidavit attached to the motion ex-parte and deposed by one of its investigators, Shaibu Friday, said he was directed by the commissioner of police to investigate a case of obtaining the sum of $667,000 and money laundering based on a petition dated March 26, 2020.

Friday said the petition was written by one Segun Fadahunsi, general manager, and Lanre Kasim, senior manager, both of GTBank headquarters, Lagos, against one Albert Austin Ugochukwu, former staff of the bank, for obtaining the sum of $667, 000, using a company known as Tasmara Integrated Services Limited to open 35 accounts which were used by him to launder money.

The PSFU stated that the funds under investigation are proceeds of fraud and may be dissipated by the suspect unless the court restrains GTBank from posting debit or allowing withdrawals from the said accounts under investigation pending the conclusion of a police investigation, adding that, it will be in the interest of justice to grant this application.

The case is still ongoing.

Letshego Enters Market For Quick Loans

In a bid to support every Nigerian, Letshego Nigeria, a pan African microfinance bank has launched a new website, www.letshego.ng, to bring its financial solutions closer to Nigerians.

Letshego MFB is part of the Pan-African, Letshego Group that has an 11-country footprint and is dedicated to improving lives through our solutions-driven loans as well as well-tailored products and services.

Letshego offers an array of quick loans designed to help every small and medium scale entrepreneur and employees to reach their objectives and ultimately achieve their dreams.

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As a brand passionate about empowering businesses and individuals, the new Letshego website, designed with the average Nigerian in mind, further reinforces that the brand truly lives its name – Letshego which means support.

All on a single platform, business owners, and employees can now find custom-tailored loans for their businesses, see the eligibility requirements, and apply for these loans with ease, details on eligibility, links to contact the bank, payment frequency and many more.

For more information to stay updated about brand activities, visit www.letshego.ng today and follow Letshego Nigeria on Facebook and Instagram.

Union Systems Launches Trade Finance Portal

Union Systems Limited, a leading financial technology company, has announced the launch of its new product, Optimus, the first multibank international trade finance portal in Nigeria. Optimus enables corporates to initiate, process, and manage all international trade transactions across their banks from a single portal.

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Optimus allows corporates to engage their supplier online real-time at the draft creation stage of Letters of Credit process. It is very secure and ensures interoperability between the corporates and their banks. Optimus is a cloud-based application.

With Optimus, corporates can process and manage all CBN forms without visiting the bank and have a single view of their overall credit line utilization at a group level, promoting transparency and efficient management of their bank credit lines. They can pay and print payment receipts of custom duties and NESS fees and manage all trade payment obligations across domiciled banks. Corporates can also track their shipment from any country of supply to Nigeria and easily know the expected arrival date of their goods ahead of time.

Union Systems Limited (USL), the maker of Optimus software, is an Information Technology Company that provides financial software solutions and professional services to major banks in Africa. The company provides software solutions to financial institutions to enhance their software capabilities, effectively scale processes, improve compliance and drive operational efficiencies.

Chuks Onyebuchi, Chief Executive Officer, Union Systems Limited stated that “We are very excited to introduce Optimus to the African market starting with Nigeria. Optimus has finally given corporates the control they have always demanded from their banks. It promotes collaboration on trade instruments among stakeholders unhindered by time zones, personal contact and channel. The product is intuitive making business users far less reliant on technical support from their IT staff and bank account managers.”

Optimus is the new trade finance superpower for corporates. With Optimus, corporates are in charge. To see how Optimus works, request a demo at www.optimus-mb.com

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NCC Offers N9 Million Grant To Tech Start-Ups

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has awarded N9m in research grants to three Nigerian startups that used digital solutions to contain the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

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The Commission disclosed that the selection of the three companies followed a careful evaluation and screening out of over 280 entries from Startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) all over the country.

In a statement, the commission said that ‘The health and economic crisis triggered by the novel COVID-19 pandemic had challenged the global ICT community to search for digital solutions to address and contain the spread of the virus. Such solutions would allow citizens and businesses to rein in the virus and continue their activities with limited disruptions.

‘As a response, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) instituted a programme to award research grants to support startups and digital SMEs with adaptable innovative digital solutions that could address present and future impacts of pandemic and epidemic-prone diseases in Nigeria.

‘Under the programme, the Commission will award Nine million naira research grants to three Nigerian startups with the most innovative digital solutions for containing pandemics and epidemics in the country in the thematic areas of health, community, productivity, economy and transportation. The highlights of the ceremony include pitching/demonstration of the top three solutions by the startups, the announcement of the winners and presentation of research prizes.

The three winners are – Messers Primed E-Health, Messers Cyberfleet Integrated Limited and Messers Elizade University.

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